A consumer consultant says New Zealand's mental health sector should customise its approach to Pasifika people suffering from mental distress.
Mary Maringikura Campbell said in general, one in five people experience depression or anxiety.
Ms Maringikura Campbell said health services were struggling to cater for the needs of the Pasifika community when it comes to mental illness.
She said psychiatric care was based on a western model which doesn't always meld well with Pasifika.
Auckland has a dedicated Pacific team, but Ms Maringikura Campbell said the rest of the country had a shortage of Pasifika nurses, doctors and psychologists.
"Slowly we are getting more and more Pacific psychiatric nurses coming through but you have to also understand that forensic and psychiatric nursing is not a very attractive pathway for many nurses so a lot of the nurses we get come from England, so they are imported , so they are a totally different culture," she said.
Ms Maringikura Campbell said a lack of health literacy meant staff and consumers can talk past each other and people can feel intimidated when entering the system.